Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) Chief Executive Caroline Siarkiewicz looks back at our work in 2021 and goals for the coming year.
I’m sure we will all agree that 2021 has been a challenging year both for individuals and organisations.
In light of those challenges, I am particularly proud of the work that we have done with our partners and stakeholders. We have all collaborated to help people across the UK make the most of their money and pensions, and I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation.
Over the course of the year, I have spoken to a number of customers who have benefitted from one of our services, including those provided by you. This is very important to me because it speaks to the heart of why MaPS exists: we help people.
As the year draws to a close, I am pleased to share some of the key challenges and achievements and how we are progressing against our plans.
Helping people in crisis
For many people already struggling, the Covid pandemic has contributed to a financial crisis. In direct response to the pandemic MaPS acted quickly to secure extra funding, and we modelled need for debt advice to ensure capacity would be available when demand for vital services comes through.
This modelling and the insights we are receiving from our partners in the sector are showing that demand for debt advice will further increase in 2022 and remain high, which is why we have increased the overall debt advice funding in the years ahead.
We have a duty, in everything we do, to consider the needs of people in vulnerable circumstances. Our evidence, including feedback from debt advisers and debt advice providers, also tells us that there will be a number of people who need face-to-face support to meet their needs and we will make sure that in-person debt advice remains part of our funded services.
Helping people manage their money day to day
In May we launched the UK’s first ever Money Guiders programme to empower practitioners in a range of sectors such as charities, housing associations and mental health organisations to deliver high quality money guidance. The programme now has over 100 partners in its network across the four nations of the UK and has been endorsed by City and Guilds. Further expansion of Money Guiders is planned for 2022 as an important part of MaPS reaching millions of people who need support with their money.
In June we launched MoneyHelper the single gateway for money and pensions guidance over the phone, online and face-
Thankfully, MoneyHelper put me in touch with a free debt adviser to get the emergency support I needed. Now I’m able to save at least something every month, and hopefully, in just over 18 months, I should be debt-free.
“In just two weeks, I feel much more positive and, while the actual amount coming in hasn’t necessarily changed, because I’ve learned how to manage and organise my finances, I feel like I have more money. Being more financially savvy has made me feel a lot better and I’m now feeling a lot more confident and positive about my future.”
*Not her real name
Helping people with their pensions and financial futures
Dashboards will be a huge part of helping people plan for their financial futures. The Pensions Dashboards Programme continues to deliver against its ambitious timeline, and the highlight of this year was the appointment of Capgemini with Origo to deliver our central digital infrastructure. Working with our Steering Group and a wider set of stakeholders has been an important part of the great progress that has been made by the programme team and I would like to offer my personal thanks to everyone involved.
Our pensions guidance team have delivered 264,000 personalised pension guidance sessions across a variety of platforms, helping people with their pension queries ranging from divorce to scams.
In September we participated in the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee’s ongoing inquiry around protecting pensions savers. Since November this year, people have been able to book a specialised pensions safeguarding appointment, offering guidance to help them identify whether they’re at risk of being scammed, additional checks to help people feel confident in their decisions, and a summary of the dangers of scams. And preparations are well underway for the implementation of the stronger nudge towards pensions guidance in 2022.
Working with partners
Throughout 2021, through formal steering groups and board sub-committees, industry working groups, social media, workshops, events and briefings, we’ve been listening to the views of our partners and the wider sector to improve how we work and what we do.
Through our network of regional and national partnerships managers we work with employers, local councils, business groups, third sector and a wide range of other stakeholders to support them in helping people make the most of their money and pensions. With the Devolved Administration Board Sub-Committee, we work closely with the national governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Through more formal groups like the MaPS Advisory Group and the Debt Advice Steering Group, we bring together sector leaders and experts who come together to constructively challenge and support.
Talk Money Week
Now in its fifth year, Talk Money Week grows in profile and impact. In 2021 MaPS worked with partners across sectors to encourage people to talk about money. 18 million adults recalled seeing or hearing something about Talk Money Week or MaPS brands during the week. This is a fantastic result, building on the previous year. I want to thank all the stakeholders who took part to help make this possible. We look forward to running the awareness week again from 7 November 2022.
UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing
In January it will be two years since we launched the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing. In the coming months we will be publishing detailed Delivery Plans for each UK nation. The plans are the culmination of significant work with hundreds of partners and will be the roadmap for the future of UK financial wellbeing.
Building on strong foundations
This year MaPS went through a departmental review by the DWP. These reviews provide assurance and challenge about the continuing need, efficiency and good governance of public bodies. The review found that MaPS has made good progress as an organisation since we were established in 2019.
Equality, diversity and inclusion
MaPS has organisational values of caring, connecting and transforming, which are central to how we work and operate. A pillar of these values is our new workforce Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy. Three core objectives in the EDI strategy – increased ethnic diversity in leadership, 80% data declaration, parity in engagement between ethnic groups – were achieved in 2021.
Looking ahead to 2022
Next financial year we will publish our first three-year Corporate Strategy. This strategy will be a significant milestone for the organisation. It will build on the strong foundations we have established and outline how we as an organisation will work with partners like you.
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact our customers and the way we work to support them. The hard work MaPS has undertaken in 2021 means we are prepared to continue to meet this challenge.
At the end of a challenging year, I’m sure you, like me, are looking forward to some downtime with family and friends over the festive season. I would like to thank you for all the support you have given MaPS over the last 12 months and I look forward to working with you in 2022.